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Ford backtracks on inspections

Ford Motor Company has cut the cost of new independent checks on network workshops as a reaction to protests from authorised repairers that the proposed inspection programme was both too expensive and unfair.

“We agree standards should rise but Ford showed a kneejerk reaction to last year’s Which? report,” claims one Ford authorised repairer.

John Cooper, director of customer services, wrote to Ford’s network of franchised dealers and authorised repairers on December 10, giving them two options on workshop quality inspections. These applied to workshops with a maximum of four technicians.

One option was agreement to three mystery shops a year (embracing workshop quality and customer handling) with each failure leading to a £1,500 charge to cover the cost.

The other option was to agree to 10 spot checks a year by the RAC (costing £250 each). The RAC would select two vehicles in the workshop, asking what the customers had requested and then inspect the work.

This week, Cooper told the network RAC checks would be reduced to five a year, with a total cost of £500. The mystery shop option remains but repairers say few would choose it.

“We think the authorised repairers have a point on cost but those who claim our proposals were a kneejerk reaction to the Which? report are wrong,” says a Ford spokesman.

“The new arrangement is the latest step in a process that started in 1999. A minority of authorised repairers have been leaving customers vulnerable and we have gained backing from the dealer council for our attempt to achieve consistent high quality across the network.

We’re also obliged by EU block exemption to do that.”

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